Yesterday I finished my Christmas present shopping. All bar a couple of little bits and pieces that will be ordered from Amazon, I am all done. On the 4th of November. This has involved – 3 weeks, 6 shopping expeditions and 3 shopping outlets visited and approximately 18 hours spent shopping plus the Amazon time. As I have referred to previously, I like to be organised, I like to plan. But, Mission Christmas is more than that. I love christmas and always have. Christmas has always been a big event in our house and we have always made a big effort. I like just about everything Christmas – the shopping, the tree and decorating, the food, having everyone around, the church services, the carols, Christmas music and so on. I love buying the gifts particularly. But, without planning in advance this all changes.
A couple of years ago, for various reasons, Mission Christmas did not get started until early December. And, it was a totally different experience. The shops were crazy busy, everyone was stressed and harassed and festive cheer seemed far away. The roads and car parks were full of angry drivers jostling for too few parking spaces. The shops felt more like jumble sales with disorganised shelves and massive till queues. Weekends felt like expeditions and quality time was seriously lacking. I was out Christmas food shopping at 5am one morning to avoid the supermarket crush and empty shelves. I was still wrapping and delivering gifts on Christmas Eve. I was tired, stressed, unable to relax and simply did not enjoy it for the first time ever.
Christmas is a busy time, there is no doubt. Myself and hubby have 3 children of our own and now a granddaughter. There are 5 generations in my family which gives you some idea of how big a family it is! It is also a family with “step families” so has many branches and is fairly spread out! Also, I have an open house every year. This started when the children were small – it was simply to stressful to pack excited children up and part them from gifts and routine. Instead we were always clear that we were staying home during the Christmas period, but everyone and anyone was welcome to join us at our home. This still hasn’t changed even though the family have. It has led to some fun Christmases!
My two eldest children have now moved out but will congregate back “home” with us on Christmas Eve, along with my Granddaughter. Christmas Eve we also have friends visiting in the evening. Christmas Day and Boxing Day in addition to the six of us (and our 2 dogs) we will have other family and friends visit. So in addition to gifts, there is food and drink planning. Also the erection of a windproof, heated gazebo to the side of the house for additional space.
So, the only way that I can ensure that everyone has an enjoyable time including myself is to plan, and buy, in advance. Next weekend I will wrap the gifts. Then I will begin planning food and compiling my online grocery shop. I will shop for the fresh food myself but will have all non perishables and drinks delivered for ease. Planning means that it is much easier to stick to a budget which is also important. I refuse to feel pressured into spending more than I have because that for me would also make Christmas stressful. Planning when there is plenty of time is fun. Planning under pressure is just plain stressful. Time is precious in our house – 2 days off a week never seems enough and I have to use it wisely.
Mission Christmas ensures that December is not spent in a state of panic buying and stress. Instead of battling the Christmas shopping crowds and craziness on one of the Saturdays, I will be at the spa having some pampering. Another weekend will be spent at the pantomime and seeing the lights in London. We are going to some concerts during December and there is a film coming out that I want to see at the cinema. Our decorations will be put up with the Christmas music blaring and the mulled wine simmering. I have no doubt that there will be some bingo and a few rowdy games nights! Board games are so underrated! It will be busy and hectic and I have no doubt that I will have frazzled moments when the house is busy and noisy and something has been forgotten. But, we will have fun – that is my mission 🙂